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The Resource Crows over a wheatfield, Paula Sharp

Crows over a wheatfield, Paula Sharp

Label
Crows over a wheatfield
Title
Crows over a wheatfield
Statement of responsibility
Paula Sharp
Creator
Subject
Genre
Language
eng
Review
  • A childhood spent trying to cope with a physically and emotionally abusing father has sensitized Melanie Klonecki to the devastation that domestic violence wreaks on its victims. Melanie, who has become a lawyer like her brilliant father, soon realizes that the law often fails those most in need of its protection. She is drawn into a personal and professional relationship with Mildred Steck, a woman whose husband, outwardly perfect, is dangerously violent. Steck takes the law into her own hands and develops an "underground railroad" to help women and children who are in similar circumstances. Sharp (Lost in Jersey City, 1993) fills this overlong, rather tedious novel with too many lightly sketched characters and unnecessary subplots. The author, an attorney herself, has strong (and justified) feelings about the failure of the legal system to help abused women. Noble sentiments may alert readers to society's social and legal inequities, but it takes a more talented writer than Sharp to turn them into a good novel. Still, readers looking for novels about domestic abuse might overlook the flaws to find support for their views. ((Reviewed July 1996)) -- Nancy Pearl
  • Sharp's new novel about domestic violence may seem a radical departure from the warm, often ribald family stories found in her earlier books, Lost in Jersey City and The Woman Who Was Not All There. Her characters here are as splendidly realized as before, and rendered with insight and humor, as Sharp tackles this serious subject with the legal expertise gleaned from her career as a criminal attorney. She weaves a highly suspenseful, complicated plot paced with unflagging narrative momentum and enhanced with telling details. The story brings together two women--New York judge Melanie Ratleer and idealistic social activist Mildred Steck--who have endured domestic violence. Spanning a period of 40 years, the novel begins in rural Wisconsin in the 1950s, where Melanie, her stepmother and half-brother, Matt, live under the shadow of her father's tyranny. Joel Ratleer is a renowned criminal attorney, but he brutally abuses his family, especially Matt, until the boy has a mental breakdown. Eventually, Matt finds shelter at a halfway house established by Mildred's father. When it is discovered that Mildred's husband, Daniel, is torturing their young son, Mildred flees with the boy after a fatuous judge seems ready to award custody to the viciously mendacious Daniel. Still on the lam, Mildred begins an underground railroad to help other families victimized by violence and legal ineptitude. Communicating with Melanie via the Internet, she pulls her into another case involving a woman who has fled an abusive but socially powerful husband. The court scenes in this novel bristle with the interaction of the participants' personalities; they are riveting. From start to finish, this is an emotionally involving story whose powerful message is commensurate with the social problem it illustrates with gripping accuracy. Major ad/promo; Italian and Spanish rights sold; author tour. (Aug.)
  • Lawyer Melanie Ratleer stoically recounts her family story and its links to the domestic violence and child custody proceedings endured by her friend, Mildred Steck. Melanie's mother died when she was seven, and her tyrannical father soon remarried Ottilie, a young woman who gave birth to his son, Matt, seven years earlier. Melanie, Ottilie, and Matt sought refuge in each other's company and eventually escaped: Melanie to her mother's family and law school, Matt to psychosis, and Ottilie to another town. When Melanie returns years later, Ottilie and Matt are lovingly attached to Rev. John Steck, who runs the halfway house where Matt resides along with his daughter, Mildred, and her son, Ben. Sharp's (Lost in Jersey City, HarperCollins, 1993) story beguilingly turns to Mildred's heroism in the face of an abusive husband and a legal system that fails to protect women and children. A chilling tale, forthrightly told; highly recommended for all fiction collections.--Sheila M. Riley, Smithsonian Inst. Libs., Washington, D.C.
  • Criminal lawyer and novelist Sharp (Lost in Jersey City 1993, etc.) stakes out a political agenda in this tale of child abuse and two women who crusade against it. In her long and affecting opening scene, Sharp's narrator, Melanie Ratleer, describes a grim Wisconsin childhood in which her father, a brilliant trial lawyer, beat his young wife, Melanie's stepmother, and psychologically abuses both Melanie and her younger brother, Matt. Matt develops schizophrenia and must be committed, and Melanie is sent to be raised by her mother's people in Illinois. Much later, she becomes a lawyer herself and attempts to bury her past in endless work. It proves inescapable, though, and she eventually returns to Illinois to begin anew her relationship with her brother. Enter Mildred Steck, a friend of Matt's. Mildred's a latter-day free spirit who becomes even more radicalized when her political activist husband, Daniel, returns from Brazil and begins, suddenly, to abuse their three-year-old son, Ben. She and Daniel separate, but when a court awards custody of the boy to Daniel, Mildred kidnaps Ben, and in the process of aiding and abetting, … la Thelma and Louise, Melanie finds liberation from her lifelong repression. Mildred even founds an underground railroad for abused women, barricading herself, Waco-style, to fend off the FBI. "There's a whole nation of women out there," she says, "who live in terror, trapped and dependent, with and without children, and the law won't free them." A whole nation? The argument that Sharp advances is that when women flee from abuse, the courts seldom allow them custody, in part because they have fled and in part because men have more power. While her novel is well-paced and dramatic, Sharp relies frequently on stereotypes and presents no worthy men to counter her two abusers. This time out, the author has apparently decided to preach to the converted, offering not healing love or cool logic but ideology. (Kirkus Reviews, July 15, 1996)
http://library.link/vocab/ext/novelist/bookUI
006601
http://library.link/vocab/creatorName
Sharp, Paula
Dewey number
813/.54
Index
no index present
Literary form
fiction
http://library.link/vocab/resourcePreferred
True
http://library.link/vocab/subjectName
  • Abused women
  • Family violence
Label
Crows over a wheatfield, Paula Sharp
Instantiates
Publication
Dimensions
25 cm.
Edition
1st ed.
Extent
403 p.
Isbn
9780786861170
Lccn
96011213
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780786861170
  • (OCoLC)34476206
Label
Crows over a wheatfield, Paula Sharp
Publication
Dimensions
25 cm.
Edition
1st ed.
Extent
403 p.
Isbn
9780786861170
Lccn
96011213
System control number
  • (Sirsi) i9780786861170
  • (OCoLC)34476206

Library Locations

    • A. Mitchell Powell Jr. BranchBorrow it
      25 Hospital Road, Newnan, GA, 30263, US
      33.387732 -84.816797

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